Program requirements

All students fulfill the following course requirements:

  • Methods
  • Language Pedagogy I and II
  • Students are required, in addition to the above, to complete a minimum of eight seminars in the German department. 2-unit Compact Seminars count toward the eight-seminar requirement. These seminars must include at least one course dealing primarily with early German literature (pre-1700) and one course dealing primarily with classical German literature (1700-1900).
  • Students are required to pass a reading exam in at least one language apart from German and English.
  • The remainder of the student’s course of study consists of electives in and outside the Department of German. These often include courses that count toward Designated Emphases or concurrent degrees.

Designated emphases and concurrent degrees

Graduate students may add a Designated Emphasis (DE) to their plans of study to gain a particular area of specialization, which is easily accomplished during the standard course of study:

Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies

Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory

Designated Emphasis in European Studies

Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Designated Emphasis in Film & Media Studies

Designated Emphasis in Folklore

Designated Emphasis in New Media

Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality

Concurrent PhD in Medieval Studies

Program milestones

  • Students are required to pass a review in the second year.
    • The student composes a committee of three faculty members in the Department of German
    • The second-year review includes a written response to a question(s) posed by the student’s review committee, and a conversation with the committee about the student’s written response and their progress in the program.
  • Students are expected to pass their Qualifying Exam (QE) in their fourth year.
    • The student composes a committee of four faculty members, including one from outside the Department of German
    • QE preparation involves several components: a reading list, a QE prospectus, and revised seminar papers.
    • All QEs conclude with a 2-3-hour oral examination.
  • Most students spend 2-3 years in candidacy, i.e., writing their dissertations.
  • Many students spend at least one year in a German-speaking country.


Department and campus life

Graduate students participate in the life of the department and the campus—e.g., attending talks; participating in reading groups; sharing in outreach efforts; taking on organizational and student-leadership responsibilities—in ways that enhance and respond to their intellectual curiosity and particular strengths and interests, and that contribute to the shared experience of our community of scholars.

Research and study abroad

Students are highly encouraged to spend time, do research, and participate in seminars and conferences in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. In order to do so, they often apply for external support (DAAD grants, Fulbright fellowships, FLAS fellowships, etc.) or use the Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

The Department of German and UC Berkeley maintain exchange networks with a number of universities in Germany, among them the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universität Konstanz, and LMU-München.

The following universities have cooperation agreements with UC Berkeley, including some funds earmarked for UC Berkeley students:

Universität Köln

Europa-Universität Viadrina

Universität Regensburg

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Universität Hamburg

Universität Greifswald

all Austrian universities with support of the Austrian Marshall Fund

University of Luxembourg

For detailed information about course requirements, program milestones, and review and examination procedures, please contact Graduate Student Affairs Officer Andrea Rapport at